January is Cervical Health Awareness Month in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – In recognition of January as Cervical Health Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding all women to improve their health by staying current on their cervical cancer screening. In 2012, 313 Michigan women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer, and in 2013, 128 Michigan women died from this disease.

The Pap test – a simple, affordable, and easy-to-administer screening test to detect cervical cancer – is widely available. Still, more than half of cervical cancer deaths are seen in women who have either never had a Pap test, or have not had testing in more than five years.

“Human Papillomavirus or HPV vaccination is also very important because it can prevent about 85 percent of all cervical cancer cases in the United States,” says Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive of the MDHHS. “The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and produces better immunity when given at the recommended age of 11-12 years. It can prevent cervical cancer in women as well as other cancers in both women and men.”

Three doses of HPV vaccine are recommended for girls and boys at 11-12 years of age, but the vaccine can be given up through age 26. However, as of September 2015, only 30.5 percent of females and 19.3 percent of males ages 13-17 had received the entire three-dose vaccine series, according to Michigan Care Improvement Registry data.

Vaccines for Children (VFC), Medicaid, MI-Child, and most health insurances pay for the HPV vaccine. If your child does not have health insurance, or does not have insurance that covers these vaccines, ask your health care provider or local health department about the VFC program. VFC provides no-or-low cost vaccines to eligible children, 18 years of age and younger.

Screening for cervical cancer is recommended to begin at age 21. Through the Healthy Michigan Plan, women’s preventive health care – such as screenings for cervical cancer, mammograms, prenatal care, immunizations, and other services – is covered without co-pays. Pap tests are available at many community-based clinics, and for women ages 40-64, Pap testing is accessible through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control and Navigation Program (BCCCNP). For more information about the BCCCNP, call 800-922-MAMM (6266).

For more information regarding HPV and cervical cancer, talk with your health care provider and visit www.michigan.gov/hpv or www.michigan.gov/cancer. More information about vaccinations in general can be found at www.michigan.gov/teenvaccines.

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